POMONA, Calif. - It may not feel like it, but the season is nearing an end. As the temperatures soar into the 90s, even in late October, the 2003 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing season is nearly over. Only one race has yet to crown its champions, the ...
POMONA, Calif. - It may not feel like it, but the season is nearing an end. As the temperatures soar into the 90s, even in late October, the 2003 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing season is nearly over. Only one race has yet to crown its champions, the Automobile Club of Southern California Finals at Pomona Raceway.
The site of the season opener and closer, Pomona Raceway means the start and finish to an entire season of heart-pounding quarter-mile action across the nation.
The Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Pomona Raceway will be held Nov 6-9. Cory McClenathan, John Force, Kurt Johnson and Matt Hines are the defending winners in their respective professional categories for the $1.7 million race, the final of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Del Worsham, driver of the red Checker Shucks's Kragen Pontiac Firebird, calls Pomona Raceway home.
"I look forward to the Auto Club Finals probably more than any other race," Worsham said. "It's home. I actually only live 20 minutes from the race track and all of our family and friends are with us in the pit area.
"Southern California, of course, is the true birthplace of drag racing and I grew up in this whole hot rod atmosphere. The fans in Pomona are awesome, very knowledgeable, and very interested in the racing. Having family and friends there is still the best part."
Worsham is fifth in the Funny Car standings after 22 races and said he would rather be coming home with a higher points position.
"All my career I've thought about coming into the Auto Club Finals in contention for the championship and what that must feel like," Worsham said. "As a team we're very close to that level, but we haven't quite gotten to that mountaintop yet.
"One of these years I fully expect to pull into Pomona Raceway in November and have the reporters ask me if we can hold on to the points lead and win the championship. When that happens, it will be like living a dream."
In 2000 and 2002, Jeg Coughlin had the Pro Stock championships clinched before he pulled into the staging lanes at Pomona Raceway. This season, however, Coughlin will bring the Jeg's Mail Order Chevy Cavalier team into Pomona without a championship as Greg Anderson clinched the Pro Stock championship in Dallas in early October.
Still, Coughlin knows the importance of a good showing at the season finale.
"Having a strong performance at the Auto Club Finals can really set the tone for the offseason," Coughlin said. "If you do well, it's great for team morale during the offseason and if you win, everyone shoots at you until coming back to Pomona to start the next season. We have done great as a team at this track and we look forward to finishing the 2003 NHRA POWERade season with authority."
Coughlin's brother and teammate, Troy Coughlin, hopes to take advantage of the later starting date for the 2004 season opener. The K&N Filters Winternationals was moved back two weeks to allow the teams more time during the offseason.
"I think our entire program is stronger than it has ever been and we are looking forward to finishing the season on a high note," Troy Coughlin said. "We are looking to come out swinging when the 2004 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing season starts again in mid-February."